'Build, build, build', Boris Johnson set to launch 'New Deal' for Covid-19 recovery

30 June 2020, 05:29

The PM will use a speech on Tuesday to lay out his "New Deal"
The PM will use a speech on Tuesday to lay out his "New Deal". Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson is set to enter a new step in the response to coronavirus on Tuesday by setting out his "new deal" plans for an "infrastructure revolution" to create jobs and stimulate an economic recovery.

The Prime Minister will pledge billions of pounds of investment to help the UK work through the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a keynote address in the West Midlands, the PM is set to say he wants to follow in the footsteps of US President Franklin D Roosevelt, who led the US out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

"Build, build, build" will be Mr Johnson's mantra, as the country starts to come out of the lockdown which started 100 days ago.

But Opposition MPs have hit out at the plans suggest the PM is not offering anything new and suggesting he could be about to "repeat the mistakes of the Thatcher years and leave entire communities behind."

The PM will say the Government intends to spend £5 billion "to accelerate infrastructure projects".

He is expected to say: "It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal.

"All I can say is that, if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be because that is what the times demand - a Government that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis.

"This is a Government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country's great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.

"To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. To unite and level up.

"To that end, we will build, build, build.

"Build back better, build back greener, build back faster, and to do that at the pace that this moment requires."

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The PM's plans will be announced, including:

- £1.5 billion to be allocated this year to hospital maintenance.

- More than £1 billion for a 10-year school rebuilding programme.

- £100 million to be spent on road projects.

- £900 million for "shovel-ready" local growth projects in England during 2020/21.

Mr Johnson is expected to say: "Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis.

"And so I want you to know that this Government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up - the mission on which we were elected last year.

"If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health.

"We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward - stronger and better and more united than ever before."

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman and party leadership contender Layla Moran said Mr Johnson was offering nothing new.

She said: "Boris Johnson is attempting to hoodwink the nation again with reheated promises rather than seizing this moment to move forward as a country.

"This speech looks like a rehash of manifesto pledges with no real plan to deliver a greener and fairer future. It shows this Government has already run out of ideas and run out steam.

"The Prime Minister also needs to realise that our infrastructure is human, not just bricks and mortar.

"We need a mass retraining programme and a cast-iron promise not to repeat the mistakes of the Thatcher years and leave entire communities behind."